Sheffield United vs Nottingham Forest Preview: Can the Blades edge closer to the play-off places before international break?

Sheffield United vs Nottingham Forest Preview: Can the Blades edge closer to the play-off places before international break?

Sheffield United will be looking to pick up another vital win in the Championship as they take on Nottingham Forest at Bramall Lane on Saturday afternoon.

samstraw
Sam Straw

Sheffield United will be looking to pick up another vital win in the Championship as they take on Nottingham Forest at Bramall Lane on Saturday afternoon.

The Blades claimed three points on Tuesday night in their re-arranged fixture with Burton Albion at Bramall Lane. A first-half strike from Edna Stevens and a second-half goal from substitute David Brooks were enough to secure the three points for the hosts. 

As for Forest, they were held to a goalless draw by bitter rivals Derby County at The City Ground last weekend. They will be looking for another good performance before the international break. 

How they've fared so far

It has without doubt been a successful season for the Blades under the management of Chris Wilder, no matter what happens between now and May. They have been able to carry the momentum gained from their League One title-winning campaign into this season and it has resulted in them becoming serious contenders to finish in a play-off position. 

Their form has improved in recent weeks after Wilder himself wrote off their chances of finishing in the top six following a 1-0 defeat to Hull City. Since then, they have won two of their last four games against Reading and Burton which has seen them move to within just two points of the play-offs. 

The Blades were not at their best on Tuesday night but were still able to beat a Burton side that are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table under the management of Nigel Clough. This is a very good sign for everyone connected with the club. Wilder believes that the fact they can beat sides in the Championship when they did not perform at their usual standard, shows that they do have the potential to reach the play-offs. 

You get the sense that the Blades would be very disappointed if they did not go on to finish in the play-offs considering the position they have found themselves in after a lot of hard work. It will, therefore, be interesting to see how the cope with the pressure as we head into the latter stages of the campaign. 

As for Forest, they look to finally be on the up under the management of Aitor Karanka. He did not have the best start at The City Ground when he first came in as the replacement for Mark Warburton. The results in his first few weeks were not good and fears of relegation were once again looming large after narrowly avoiding the drop into League One last season. 

However, a very busy end to the January transfer window helped add experience and quality to Forest's squad which has gradually resulted in an upturn in form. They now find themselves unbeaten in their last six matches which has seen them move 15 points clear of the relegation zone. 

Their recent form has been built on improving drastically in defence with the partnership of loan signing Tobias Figueiredo and Danny Fox in the centre being particularly impressive. They will be travelling to South Yorkshire with the belief that they can keep another clean sheet and potentially take all three points if they can take their chances in front of goal. 

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Last time they met 

The Blades last played Forest in the Championship in a 2-1 defeat at The City Ground in September. The Blades had taken the lead after just three minutes through John Lundstram.

However, goals from Jason Cummings and Everton loanee Kieran Dowell before half-time were enough to secure the three points for the hosts. 

Team news 

It will be interesting to see whether Wilder gambles and plays Brooks from the start in this one after recent fitness struggles. However, they have been boosted by the fact they have no new injuries or suspensions to contend with ahead of this match.

As for Forest, Karanka is still unable to select David Vaughan and Ashkan Dejagah as they continue to recover from their injuries. However, centre-back Jack Hobbs has recently returned to training and may even be included in the squad for this match. 

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